Surgery causes many changes to the body and mind. In fact, surgery can cause significant anxiety and depression. Those emotions can then hurt your recovery, making it longer and more painful. Patients with pre-existing depression are at risk, but so are patients who don't have any pre-existing mood disorders.
Surgery can cause or worsen depression. Depression can hurt your recovery. Fortunately, there are many tools to prevent this.
Why is depression after surgery such a big problem?
Surgery is a major stressor to your body, both physically and psychologically. You're more likely to recover smoothly if your health is optimized. Depression disrupts many organs and can seriously set back your recovery. Here are some examples:
"It is well established that the emotional health of the patient influences the outcome of many common orthopedic surgeries"
- Ayers, et al. "The role of emotional health in functional outcomes after orthopaedic surgery: extending the biopsychosocial model to orthopaedics: AOA critical issues." The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume 95.21 (2013).
Why treat depression before surgery?
Even if your surgeon does a perfect surgery, your outcome may not be ideal. In some cases, the reason may be from depression. Clearly, depression is associated with worse outcomes after surgery.
In addition, if you already have depression, your symptoms may get worse. Unfortunately, this can even happen with minor surgeries that don't require hospitalization.
The good news: depression can be treated before and after surgery. Even major surgery, like open heart surgery, can benefit from depression treatment. Treating depression doesn't always require medication. Tools like cognitive behavioral therapy can be incredibly effective, and can improve your mood for the rest of your life, even after surgery.
Meeting with your anesthesiologist before surgery can be incredibly helpful to help you take control over your outcome. In doing so, it can also reduce your anxiety before surgery. This can be a major tool in addressing depression around the time of surgery.
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